Jen Balkus

Clinical Associate Professor, Epidemiology



PhD Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2012
MPH Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2005
BA Women Studies, Wesleyan University, 2000



Box 351619
Department of Epidemiology
Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, 871A
Seattle, WA 98195


Dr. Balkus is an infectious disease epidemiologist whose research spans across the fields of sexual and reproductive health with a specific focus on questions that interface between the vaginal microbiome and STI & HIV prevention among both pregnant and non-pregnant people. Dr. Balkus is passionate about improving genital health for all people with a vagina and has contributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STD guidelines for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.  She has expertise in conducting both clinical trials and observational studies, in the US and globally, and currently leads two NIH R01-supported research projects. The first is evaluating the relationship between vaginal bacterial and susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection among a cohort of cisgender women in Kenya. The second project is assessing opportunities to improve STI testing and treatment to reduce STI recurrence among a cohort of cisgender adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. Dr. Balkus is also an Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she is an investigator with the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and the Infectious Disease Clinical Research  Consortium (IDCRC). She serves on protocol teams for two ongoing MTN trials that are assessing the safety of the dapivirine vaginal ring in pregnant and postpartum breastfeeding individuals and an upcoming IDCRC trial assessing the SARS-CoV-2 immune response among pregnant individuals who receive different vaccine platforms during pregnancy. In addition to her research, Dr. Balkus teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Health and serves as the faculty co-chair or the Department of Epidemiology’s Equity and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Research Interests

  • Vaginal microbiome
  • STI prevention
  • HIV risk prediction
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Women
  • Africa

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Building Indigenuity, Generating HIV Science: An HIV/AIDS Research Training Program for Undergraduate and Graduate Indigenous Scholars (BIG HART).
(2023 Oct 1)
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 94(2S): S60-S64
Balkus JE, Conde M, Lewin A, Walters KL

Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pathway Initiative (CDEIPI): Developing Career Pathways for Early-Stage Scholars From Racial and Ethnic Groups Underrepresented in HIV Science and Medicine.
(2023 Oct 1)
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 94(2S): S5-S12
Greenberg AE, Wutoh A, Bowleg L, Robinson B, Magnus M, Segarra L, Simon P, Wutoh A, Blankenship K, Burke M, Okeke NL, Corneli A, Hussen S, Holliday RC, Ciaranello A, Ghebremichael M, Haberer J, Irvin R, Irvin N, Antoine DG 2nd, Chen Z, Momplaisir F, Jordan-Sciutto K, So-Armah K, Kuo C, Flanigan T, Sanchez M, Levine AD, Sluis-Cremer N, Koethe JR, Dash C, Pereira FA, Rice AP, Newell A, Dācus J, Wood C, Elopre L, Rana A, Pitpitan E, Stockman JK, Sauceda J, Marquez C, Robinson S, Chi BH, Balkus J, Walters K, Lewin A, Schoonmaker A, Wong E, Refsland E, CDEIPI Consortium: DC CFAR CDEIPI Coordinating Center:, DC CFAR:, Duke CFAR:, Emory CFAR:, Harvard CFAR:, Johns Hopkins University CFAR:, Miami CFAR:, Penn CFAR:, Providence/Boston CFAR:, Rustbelt CFAR:, Tennessee CFAR:, Texas D-CFAR:, Third Coast CFAR:, UAB CFAR:, San Diego CFAR:, UCSF CFAR:, UNC CFAR:, UW/Fred Hutch CFAR:, NIH CFAR Program Office:

Demand for medication abortion among public university students in Washington.
(2023 Aug 10)
J Am Coll Health
Riley T, Godfrey EM, Angelini E, Zia Y, Cook K, Balkus JE

Acceptability and Use of the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring and Daily Oral Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) During Breastfeeding in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Uganda.
(2023 Jul 11)
AIDS Behav
Stoner MCD, Hawley I, Mathebula F, Horne E, Etima J, Kemigisha D, Mutero P, Dandadzi A, Seyama L, Fabiano Z, Scheckter R, Noguchi L, Owor M, Balkus JE, Montgomery ET

Differences in influenza vaccination by gender identity and state-level gender equity policies: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2015-2019.
(2023 Jun)
Prev Med 171(): 107485
Cox SN, Fajans MA, Frivold CJ, Littman AJ, Balkus JE

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